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‘In the Army Now’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 12, 1994

 


Director:
Daniel Petrie Jr.
Cast:
Pauley Shore;
Andy Dick;
David Alan Grier;
Lori Petty
PG
sexist innuendo, perpetuation of ethnic stereotypes and merciless footage of Pauly Shore in briefs — and his friend without them


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Pauly Shore in fatigues? It may sound funny, but in Hollywood Pictures' "In the Army Now," the tousled dude from Glendale is rarely allowed to be all that he can be. Enlisting for this formulaic potboiler about impromptu combat duty in the Sahara, Shore is too caught up in military maneuvers to -- you know -- be funny.

Oh, there are Pauly moments all right. It's not what he says, it's the rubbery, impulsive way he acts. At a miniature golf course, for instance, Shore is fascinated by the golfers in uniform playing behind him. Without warning, he walks up to one and runs his hands through the Army Reservist's spiky hair. Any other person doing this would be slaughtered on the spot. But Shore is such a charmed animal, the reservist cheerfully lets him do it again. This scene -- while briefly demonstrating Shore's impulsive quirks -- is also a clunky conduit to the story ahead. The dumb story ahead.

When the golfers tell Shore about military pay and part-time action, Shore -- recently fired from his sales job -- figures he might just come out ahead. Besides, joining something like the Water Purification division will hardly put him in danger. "It's like joining a health spa," he tells his buddy (Andy Dick), "only they pay us."

The two friends join and -- naturally -- there's a sudden military situation. It seems that the Libyan leader and his army of ethnic stereotypes have threatened to blow a collection of American army bases sky high with their arsenal of mobile Scud missiles. Shore -- now shorn of those curly locks -- heads for the north African desert. What awaits him is an arid expanse of plot slaked with precious little comedy. Linking up with fellow water-purifiers Lori Petty (fighting for gender and country) and David Alan Grier (suffering every conceivable phobia), Shore and Dick find themselves battling Libyan forces, escaping POW camps, wandering through the desert without food or water and -- inevitably -- proving their mettle. Vultures show up. So does a cute camel. Too bad they already used "Ishtar" for a title.

Every promising situation -- Shore suffering through basic training, dealing with real battle and so on -- suffers immediate creative fatigue. You wait for the big laugh but -- apart from minor Shore-isms -- it never really comes. ("Encino Man" and "Son-In-Law," Shore's previous, only fitfully funny projects, are much better than this.) The screenplay, hacked into being by director Daniel Petrie Jr., Ken Kaufman, Stu Krieger, Fax Bahr and Adam Small (at least, those are the credited ones), proves the adage that too many cooks spoil the broth. Apart from depriving Shore -- the main attraction -- of comic opportunity, this script loads up on tiresome subplots (a superfluous battle of wills between Shore and short-tempered sergeant Esai Morales; de rigeur affection between Shore and Petty), cheesily wags pompoms in the air for the Army, and has a little Libyan and Arab-bashing party to boot. In Hollywood, there are no dishonorable discharges, only video rental profits.

IN THE ARMY NOW (PG) — Contains sexist innuendo, perpetuation of ethnic stereotypes and merciless footage of Pauly Shore in briefs — and his friend without them.

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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